CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It’s a reserve account designated for emergencies, but there’s still disagreement at the State House about whether West Virginia’s current financial situation is the kind of catastrophe meriting a $120 million dip into the Rainy Day Fund.

“I’m very glad that we had a savings account where we didn’t have to cut services for children or seniors or whatever the case may be to get us over this little bump in the road,” said House Majority Whip Mike Caputo (D-Marion, 50) who supports the move to plug a budget hole.

Caputo said what’s taken will be returned to the Rainy Day Fund once the state’s budget improves.  Analysts have projected a turnaround after the next budget year.

But Senator Mitch Carmichael (R-Jackson, 4) said lawmakers are setting a dangerous precedent by dipping into the Rainy Day Fund, for the first time, to balance the budget instead of further cutting spending or raising taxes — both tough sells in an election year.

“It’s not for a capital expenditure or for any other expense that is a one time expenditure.  We built, into this fund, baseline budget building (including) raises for public employees and others things,” said Carmichael.

Last week, lawmakers approved the new state budget with the Rainy Day Fund money.  That budget includes $1,000 across-the-board pay raises for teachers, two percent raises for other school service personnel and $504 for other state workers.

Carmichael said he’s concerned about the effects of the move on the state’s bond ratings which are partly based on reserve amounts.

Both Caputo and Carmichael debated the issue on Monday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin had originally proposed taking $83 million from the Rainy Day Fund.  The amount approved last week in the budget for 2014-2015 — the fiscal year that starts on July 1 — will work out to about a $120 million reduction to the Rainy Day Fund.

The fund currently stands at about $920 million and is considered to be one of the strongest in the United States.

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  • CaptainQ

    Politicians NOT spending/wasting our tax dollars? Is that even possible in WV?

  • the truth

    My issue with the rainy day fund is both Manchin and Tomblin have known for years this was coming. They used this problem to basically stick it to regular state employees for the last eight years. Manchin and Tomblin have gotten this surplus by running regular state agencies into the ground. Now the politicians are acting all surprised this has come. No, they just will not make any decisions that are beneficial to this state.

    • 1 who knows

      No truer words posted by the truth.

  • Jonus Grumby

    There seems to be a sorted history of fiscally irresponsible politicians. Fix that, and you fix most of this country's problems.

  • Todd

    They need to dip into the fund and pave these WV roads this summer. We can never hope to attract new business with the roads in their current condition. Between the roads tearing up around us and the tainted water things are not looking good.

    • Jonus Grumby

      According to Paul Mattox, WVDOH has a surplus of funds. If that is true, there is no need to go there.

  • Gary

    They couldn't make any hard decisions because they're up for re-election . We need term limits on state and federal two terms and out you go. These clowns need to go. The economy isn't going to get better. In a couple of years the so called rainy day fund will be gone and the states rating tanked.

  • Robert

    Do it once, they'll do it again.

    This isn't what the fund was established for. It's to be used for an emergency not for political cowardice.

    Fear of making the tough decisions, fear of not being re-elected, isn't an emergency.

  • Medman

    Any balance in any account in State government is like cocaine for Legislators. Once they try it, regardless of the rules or warnings, they have to have more. I will bet the farm that they will continue to use it to pay ongoing operating expenses and eventually ruin the credit rating and any plan for a real emergency facing our state.

  • zero tolerance

    I bet we would be getting a much more decisive and clearer definition of just what is an "E-M-E-R-G-E-N-C-Y", IF this wasn't an election year.